Film sector eyes 40 bln yuan as cinemas reopen Published: 2020/5/11 3:48:08

Photo: VCG

A circular released by China's State Council on epidemic prevention and control on Friday said the movie industry is counting down the days when business will resume. 

The notification said that indoor venues and other entertainment spots such as movie theaters would be required to sell advance tickets and limit capacity when they reopen after being closed for 105 days. 

Shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and other public facilities will be fully operational, the circular said. 

Analysts said it was optimistic that theaters would reopen in May as it could provide a new wave of box office peaks during the summer. 

Can't wait to reopen 

Cinemas have started to resume operations one after another worldwide. 

In South Korea, 48,000 viewers visited theaters during the week as of April 25, an increase from the previous week's 45,000.

The South Korean government announced on April 22 it would inject 17 billion won ($13.8 million) into its domestic film industry as part of emergency plans to rescue the sector battered by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The policy will also give a 90 percent cut in charges for the film development fund imposed on local movie theaters this year, according to Korea's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports.

In the US, the San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment, the first indoor theatre chain in Texas, reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting 3,000 moviegoers on May 4. 

In China, cinema closures made it hard for film and television companies to continue operations. Companies claimed the closures forced them to file for bankruptcy, lay off employees, reduce salaries, and put theaters up for sale. 

Industry professionals had to switch to other jobs to make a living. As film business resumes, this will be the only way to break the bottleneck. Filmmakers have also started counting down the days. 

A top topic list on Weibo has been occupied by key words such as "tickets booking," and "limited capacity." 

Follow-up procedures are expected after the State Council notification. 

With "limited capacity," theaters shouldn't worry. The average theater attendance rate in 2019 was only 12 percent, which was below the standard limit. 

Meanwhile, business insiders said once the details on how the films should be screened is released, theaters can officially open upon further notice.

A Weibo poll by "Sina Movies" on cinemas reopening showed that the top vote was, "can't wait to go back to the cinema to watch movies," which is different from an earlier survey that indicated zero interest among netizens. Chinese audiences' thirst for movies has been suppressed for over three months and needs to be quenched.

The poll also found that over 30 percent of netizens said "it takes a great movie to buy a ticket." Content could still be king for this year's movie market. 

China's domestic box office is expected to lose over 30 billion yuan this year, according to media reports released in April. 

The box office in 2019 was 64.1 billion yuan ($9 billion), and under normal circumstances, the expected annual box office tally this year should be around 70 billion yuan with a 10 percent growth rate. There is still 40 billion yuan to achieve, minus a long-gone 30 billion yuan.

Below is a list of films scheduled for release during the second half of 2020. Their performance could determine market trends: 

The Eight Hundred

Pulled from the Shanghai Film Festival, The Eight Hundred has yet to make its debut, which could help it achieve a greater revenue at the box office.


This movie was scheduled to play during Spring Festival. 

It is expected to perform phenomenally at the box office, with top-level nationality and a top-notch reputation. Business insiders believe it will attract 5 billion at the box office despite the pandemic.

Detective Chinatown 3

As one of the top choices on the Spring Festival play list, Detective Chinatown 3 could have suffered the most. 

Thanks to the buzz created by its online campaign, Detective Chinatown 3 is expected to have an amazing opening day. The previous record-breaking pre-sale tickets have set the tone. 

The Gods

As one of the top-tier films for 2020, sources said that due to the pandemic, overseas special effects vendors could not keep up the timeline. The film's release could be delayed until 2021. This could serve a fatal blow to its built-in market, but it's release might generate significant volume. 

My Hometown and Me

Following last year's National Day movie schedule, My People, My Country, which hit a record of more than 3 billion yuan, My Hometown and Me will be under Zhang Yimou's leadership as executive producer, Zhang Yibai for general planning, and Ning Hao as the chief director. Meanwhile, several comedians star in the film. 

According to the original release schedule, it was supposed to open in May, with one screening set for National Day. 

Hollywood wise, Christopher Nolan's new work TENET is the only film that can be relied on worldwide. Warner Bros. Studios will reevaluate the release date and decide within a week if it will pull the film. 

Other possible film imports include Mulan, No Time to Die, Godzilla vs. Kong

Posted in: FILM

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